By Guest Contributor Matthew Jones, MA, LCPC, CADC
Therapy is nothing short of transformative. As a life coach and licensed therapist, I recommend that each person enter therapy at least once in their lives. While stigma and fear often prevent people from starting the journey of real self-development, I know that once clients find the correct therapist, their lives will improve for the better.
Therapy illuminates new perspectives that you never previously considered and provides a safe, confidential space to process your feelings in new ways. However, therapy alone is not enough for lasting happiness. All clients need to establish a foundation of healthy practices outside of therapy to continue making meaningful progress towards their goals.
Whether you’re a client passionate about integrating more self-development practices into your life outside of sessions, or a prospective client wanting to continue improving your life, you need to engage in self-care. Self-care involves a wide range of activities that give you energy. While we’re all different in terms of what provides us energy, some actions are known to have significant positive impacts.
The list below includes 10 easy self-care activities that everyone should practice to immediately increase happiness and further their self-development.
1. Practicing good sleep hygiene.
Sleep is number one for a reason—it’s related to your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. This vital aspect of our lives has the capability to make or break your ability to make the most out of each day.
Start valuing yourself by prioritizing a consistent sleep schedule. Doing so will increase your emotional stability, mental clarity, and physical endurance.
2. Consistent exercise.
Most jobs don’t prioritize movement, which is something our bodies were designed to do. Try going on walks, lifting weights, swimming, running, or doing yoga. The more energy you use on a daily basis, the more energy your body will create!
3. Writing or journaling.
Not only is writing an invaluable communication skill, it’s also a great self-care activity. Externalizing your thoughts helps you work through ideas and feelings and create more room for presence.
Research shows that meditating is beneficial for many reasons. Not only does it improve your ability to relax, it also refines your capacity to concentrate. With so many applications and YouTube videos waiting to guide you through a mediation, there’s no excuse for not giving it a try!
Pausing to reflect on your life’s journey is an integral part of continued growth. Take some time on a daily or weekly basis to reflect on your goals. Try to determine where you’ve progressed, what obstacles entered the equation, and gain a sense of direction for the future.
6. Massage or other body work.
Massage, acupuncture, or energy work like Reiki can all be relaxing, cleansing, and a nice treat for your body-mind. Try reducing spending in other areas of your life and committing to investing in yourself—you deserve some quality relaxation.
7. Reading a book.
All great minds read. And they don’t just read popular blogs and articles—they read primary sources. Stop setting for easy reads and reconnect to challenging topics that add depth to your mental and emotional life.
8. Breathing exercises.
Learning how to manipulate your breath is a vital part of attention and relaxation. The more that you practice using breathing exercises during low-stress moments, the easier they are to implement when you’re experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
9. Having down time without screens.
The one addiction we all share is our love of screens. While they are engaging and stimulating, like sugar, too much can be problematic. If you want to reconnect to your emotional self and ignite your creativity, allow yourself to have genuine down-time without a staring at your phone, tablet, or television.
10. Spending time in nature.
Nature is restorative. It will help you relax and feel connected to something greater than yourself, which is important in our era of technological immediacy and emotional isolation. Disconnect, unplug, and re-discover the sacred healing energy of nature. Your mind, body, and emotional health will thank you.
In truth, it doesn’t matter if you’re a current client or a future therapy client. These self-care activities are vital parts of living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Prioritizing your continued growth by integrating more of these activities into your daily routine will make you a happier and more well-rounded person.
You are your most valuable asset—start treating yourself with the compassion you show others.
Matthew Jones is a life coach, licensed therapist, addiction specialist, and is earning his doctorate in clinical psychology. With writings published in Time Magazine, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and more, Matt is passionate about using his expertise to help individuals reach their full potential. You can find more of his writing by reading his column in Inc. Magazine and by visiting his website.